I’ve read romances for much longer than I’ve written them, and I believe that readers expect more from love stories than an engaging plot, remarkable characters and snappy dialogue. I think we armchair romantics are also delighted when we find validation of the kind of relationship we are looking for or have found in our own lives.
Thinking about that and realizing I’ve spent most of my days focused on writing about falling in love, being in love and living happily ever after for more than fifteen years, I’ve decided it’s time to share some of what I’ve learned from my writing, from readers, and from my own life and marriage.
A PLACE OF YOUR OWN
Being in love comes with ups and downs, rocky moments, euphoria. It can be exhausting. Adding real life commitments and pressures make it doubly so. I’m never surprised when I’m writing to discover I’ve once again created a “safe place” for my hero and heroine. That’s because my husband and I have long recognized our own need for this. Find a place where the two of you can find peace and space, one that gives you a sense of privacy, even with others around. Then just share it. Enjoy it. Breathe it in. Be quiet together. Talk together. Whatever. But do take time away from the world to be still with yourself and with each other. For me and my guy, it’s invariably outdoors—hiking, sitting lakeside, watching the leaves change color. We always come home feeling renewed and stronger as a couple.
EMBRACE EACH OTHER’S STRENGTHS
The days of knights on white horses rescuing damsels in distress are long gone. Nowadays, love seems to be much more comfortable with two competent, strong people who come together without either of them having to be “the boss.” The best couples I know—and some of the best characters I’ve written—know each other’s strengths and skills and foibles and have found a way to fit the pieces of themselves together. You’re both good with money and financial planning? Take turns paying bills and evaluating your investments. He loves to cook. She doesn’t. Voila! The kitchen is his. Does that mean no one ever needs to be dominant? No. It’s about thriving together, with each person stepping in or stepping out of the lead role naturally and as needed—whether or not it means crossing old-fashioned gender lines. And, keep in mind, as time passes people change. Be ready to switch things up as interests and circumstances evolve. After 32 years of marriage, raising three sons, meeting old goals and making new ones, I can tell you that being flexible has been hugely important in our relationship.
TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME
Telling someone for the first time that you love them can be one of the most difficult moments in a relationship. We all know why. It can be harrowing. What if I say it and he doesn’t? What if it’s too soon to tell her and I scare her away? What if I say it after she says it and she thinks I just said it because she said it and that I don’t really mean it? YIKES! Well, I’m not about to tackle this one. It’s hard enough helping my heroes and heroines get up the nerve to take that risk! But, what I will tell you is that once you say it, say it again. And again. And continue to say it throughout all the years you’re together. You’re reminding yourselves how lucky you are to love and be loved. “Of course, I love you. You know that. Why do I have to say it?” just doesn’t cut it. We say “I love you” because it’s true and because the best and most constant relationship in our lives deserves to be celebrated. So, even if it’s in between loading the dishwasher and reading Go, Dog, Go for the 200th time, give it a try.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
At the end of the day, all the good advice in the world isn’t going to make “happily ever after” a reality for couples. It takes love, commitment, loyalty, shared goals and holding tight to each other through all the joys and sadness that life brings us. Not always easy and not always hard. And if I had to do it all over again with this fun and loving man whose shared life’s joys and battles with me through the years, I would absolutely say “I do.” Happily Ever After? Don’t you know? That’s only in romance novels. Happy We’re Together? That’s life.
Immersing yourself in a romance novel can be a fun and relaxing way to take a break from the everyday life. And it’s one form of entertainment that’s portable. So grab one, head to the beach, take a bubble bath, or curl up in your favorite chair and enjoy! To find out more about Lori Foster and her books, especially her Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor novels, When You Dare, Trace of Fever, and Savor the Danger, sign up for her free newsletter or visit her website. You’ll also see information about upcoming book events, writers and readers conferences and recommendations from Lori for other books and authors you’ll want to try.